The LWF Blog
Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Community Fire Safety – Part 2May 20, 2019 1:39 pm
In LWF’s blog series for those who work in Facilities Management, or who have an interest in or responsibility for fire safety, we have been looking at community fire safety. In part 1, it was established that while there was scarce regulation on fire safety standards in residential buildings, such dictates would have little effect on owner/occupier domiciles. Fire safety education, however, has proved more successful and the informal beginnings of this lay with the local Fire Service. In part 2, we continue looking at the history of community fire safety.
In 1995, the Audit Commission produced a report ‘In the Line of Fire’ (PDF) which stated that greater attention should be paid to fire prevention work. However, much more impact was made when, in 1997, a Community Fire Safety Task Force appointed by the Home Secretary produced their report ‘Safe as Houses’ (not available online) which deduced that the majority of domicile fires were preventable, as they were the result of a lack of care or appropriate behaviour on the part of the householder. In order to reduce fires in domestic buildings, therefore, only fairly simple measures needed to be taken to prevent fires from occurring.
In 1998, the National Community Fire Safety Centre (NCFSC) was founded on the back of the ‘Safe as Houses’ report findings. Budget resources were allocated for the pursuit of community fire safety initiatives and instigated a programme of cultural and operational change for the Fire Service.
While there was no statutory duty in 1998 for the Fire Service to undertake community safety activities, the Fire and Rescue Services Act of 2004 formalised what was already largely in place. The ‘Fire and Rescue Service National Framework’, also published in 2004, set out clearly what the government expected of the Fire Service, one element of which was the Integrated Risk Management Plans (IRMPs) which fire and rescue authorities are required to produce.
It is certainly safe to say that the Fire and Rescue Service now see community fire safety as a core activity of the services provided by them. A whole range of activities take place on a regular basis including such initiatives as chimney fire safety week, the ‘Fire Kills’ campaign, and undertaking partnership working on programmes aiming to reduce anti-social behaviour and therefore, instances of arson. In addition, Fire Service personnel carry out fire safety checks in people’s homes, especially for those residents who might be classed as vulnerable and organise, as well as organising and attending fire-education events in schools.
In part 3 of the community fire safety blog series, LWF will look at the National Smoke Alarm Campaign. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0800 410 1130.
Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.
While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.